Monday, January 21, 2008

Saving the planet by creating new synthetic life forms?

Dr. J. Craig Venter, one of the scientists who decoded the human genome, says he is about to create the first artificial life form. I saw him on BBC World today (The Richard Dimbleby Lecture - click here) and I was impressed by what he had to say. Some of these developments are really scary and I am still thinking about what this man said about "creating life which is not forged by Darwinian evolution, but created by human intelligence".

Dr. Venter is talking about 'reading the code of life' and 'writing the code of life' and I do hope that he is willing to give some credit to the original Author of this DNA code (but that might be wishful thinking on my part). Based on this lecture it is more likely that this man's motto is: "In Science We Trust". He expects to find bio-technical solutions for many of the major problems that we are facing in the world. Dr. Venter wants to do something against the green house effect by finding a renewable alternative biological energy source that can replace the carbon based fossil energy sources; he also talks about possibilities for better medical treatment by preventing illnesses in stead of curing them. It all sounds too good to be true and I also get the impression that this man expects only good things from science and is not too concerned about the possible dangers. Don't know what to think about this yet, but it worries me to be honest. Feel free to let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.

More information here


John said...

I believe Mary Shelley wrote about this kind of thing a while back in a book called Frankenstein. I'm intensely interested in this and watching where this all goes. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I will be doing some additional looking about on this topic. Still a bit pessimistic about toying with the stuff that makes up life.


Carol L. Douglas said...

Whereas I was raised on Kurt Vonnegut ("Cat's Cradle") and take science far less seriously than it takes itself.

For as long as I can remember, there have been doomsday stories about science and the environment.

(Being the World's Oldest Person, I remember hiding under my school desk waiting for the Bomb...)

And yet...

The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in his Heaven -
All's right with the world!

Mike said...

A great example of just what is wrong with science, there are some who are more concerned about if they CAN do something, than if they SHOULD do something.

Conny Vos said...

Mensen die denken dat ze God zijn! Maken de paniek op de beurs en economische depressie de weg vrij voor de anti-christ? Let op de tekenen der tijd.

David said...

Paul, don't hold your breath waiting for the good doctor to give credit to the original author of life; he's too busy trying to be the author of life.

Art said...

This kind of thing is very frightening to me. They are messing with something they do not completely understand and their ignorance could spell disaster for us all!

Cori said...

It's hard for me to work this one out as a Christian. On the one hand we want to be without sickness and without sin. We believe that a world of perfection is one that God created and most longs for. On the other we know that our sin and sickness are essential in drawing us to a dependent relationship on God. I wonder if the key is that healing from sin and sickness are only possible through the original creator.

We keep thinking that we are closer to finding the answer to the worlds problems, and then new problems arise that we can't cure (eg: HIV/Aids). I wonder if this will keep happening until we learn to turn to the originator of life who alone knows the 'answer' to our dying selves and dying planet.